Listening to Bolo Nef’s new Sol Invictus reminded me of taking one of those long, solo road trips. When the fatigue of navigating an endless stretch of highway in the dark gives way to your brain wandering off to those shadowy, Cimmerian mind states. When you find yourself contemplating the implications of, say, absolute nothingness, and all that stares back at you from the road is the yawning, silent void.
Bolo’s team of creative minions, Underworld Dust Funk (or UDF), specializes in this type of isolationist theory. Theirs is the chant of the alienated and nihilistic; the ethos of the creatures that live and move in the shadows — literally and figuratively — of Seattle’s sunnier hip hop side.
Bolo took me to task on Twitter the other day for reaching snap judgements of his UDF counterpart Caz Greez’s album Misfit. I called that record “cloud trap, promethazine slumber rap”. Fair enough, Bolo. Misfit is definitely more than that. I would contend, however, that Sol Invictus does a superior job of conveying UDF’s prime philosophies. Maybe that’s due to Bolo’s turnt down lyrical style — Caz’s three appearances lend a welcome dose of animation to SI.
Yes, Bolo documents Percocet and pill popping here also, but it scans heavily as self-medication rather than recreational use. Sol Invictus slumbers, half-sober, amid the sounds of a mother’s cries, muted sirens and the waning ping of a heart monitor. While some other ma’fuckas do it to death on world tours, UDF has enough issues just avoiding death around the next corner. It’s probably time to wake up to Bolo’s un-merry crew of illicit prescription revelers. The problem is, sometimes waking up is the scariest part.
Tacoma’s The Breaklites with a new album, I ♥ America. There’s been a growing buzz around this crew of party-focused South Sound rappers and it’s all deserved.
The Good Sin and guest Sean Carson party by the pool with a host of inanimate objects. And no I’m not talking about rap video models. These are actual inanimate objects. Been a minute since we’ve heard from Sinseer; nice to have him back in the mix. Download “Living Dreams”, here.
OC Notes let fly this massive collection (over 100!) of Rap Loops yesterday for your ears’ enjoyment. Practice your bar structure before that open mic night.
Malice and Mario Sweet dropped their new single “Celebration” on New Year’s Eve. I was too busy standing in line in the freezing outdoors for the opportunity to buy watered down drinks for $15 each. NYE in NYC is so glamorous.
Anyway… “Celebration” found its release on the most celebrated — okay, arguable — day of the year in America, but it also commemorated M&M’s five-year wedding anniversary. Congratulations to them! As someone who will be taking the plunge into nuptials (that sounds weird) this May, mad respect to Seattle’s favorite real-life R&B couple for reaching the half decade benchmark.
In advance of their show with Fly Moon Royalty tonight at Neumos, Fresh Espresso dropped this new track. “On!” swirls around like an electronic dust storm. It’ll sound great live, go see.
Well now that 206UP’s Best Seattle Hip Hop Albums of 2013 have made the rounds, we can get back to the regularly scheduled programming. If you missed my holier-than-thou lists and write-ups, scroll down for that shit or click here.
Hello, 2014. Nice to make your acquaintance. Here’s to another slew of quality Seattle rap over the next 363 days, beginning with Nacho Picasso’s new tape Trances With Wolves. I don’t know what this sounds like yet, but I’m hoping it features some Kevin Costner ad-libs ripped straight from the eponymous (not quite) movie. NP staying active even in the newborn belly of vingt-14.
Seattle rap fans are blessed with the greatest Christmas-themed hip hop album in history. Bold statement, but I defy you to find another! The Sta-Hi Brothers (Vitamin D and Maine) released their Chrismas Trees EP two years ago but it deserves revisiting every December 25th. You’ll never listen to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack the same again.
Download Chrismas Trees for free here, but don’t play it while grandma’s around.
Sabzi dropped this “albumixtape” in the inbox this morning as a little gift to the fans. Thanks, Saba! Seems like The Woods is a preview of what’s to come in 2014 from Made In Heights, his side project with vocalist Kelsey Bulkin — an unexpected and welcome surprise! Happy Holidays and stay warm, family.
In my eleventh hour push to cram for 206UP’s annual best-of list (dropping next week!), I realize there’s a grip of worthy music that I missed out on the first time it came around.
Triceracorn is one such example. Producer IG88 and rapper Beige (best MC name ever?) compose the duo responsible for October’s Porcelain, a 12 track collection of ambient hip hop, rich with brave sonic ideas and existential angst. Beige explores a host of topics from love to substance abuse, all tackled from oblique angles and through metaphorical oddities. The LP also features a couple of nice guest shots from Sandpeople’s boom-bap philosopher IAME and Hellfyre Club’s resident wordplay professor Open Mike Eagle. Porcelain makes for perfect headphone music on a cloud-covered day.
Finally got a chance to listen to Love Child, the MADlines x BeanOne collab. Hip hop meets reggae stylings to bombastic and highly danceable effect. I don’t recall Mad ever sounding this confident or dexterous on the mic, even in the golden years of Canary Sing, the other half of whom lends guest vocals on “I-R-I-E”. Love Child will warm up your winter.
Caz Greez’s Misfit slips easily into the cloud trap, promethazine slumber rap of the moment. In fact, I fell asleep on the subway listening to it because of its hypnotic properties. Caz raps in a pitched snarl about various ingested stimulants and how they make him better at fucking women. Drugs are a good excuse for deviant behavior and they may be necessary to enjoy Misfit at maximum capacity.
The Physics dropped their new album Digital Wildlife today. 206UP is happy to tell you, dear readers, that one of the most well-crafted, musically adventurous, and, let’s face it, best, Seattle hip hop albums of the year is available for free. Visit the group’s SoundCloud below to download. More to say about DW in the very near future, but for now you should just listen. Happy weekend, family.
Haruki or Takashi? The former has a thing for cats. So, him. Time travel. Lucid dreaming. Shifting reality. Words and stories. Made In Heights read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and made a song.
Nu Era recently dropped a three-piece called A Start 2 The Beginning and it’s tight as fuck. Preview below and throw some change at the quartet for the tracks.
I expose my deepest darkest secrets and most aspirational dreams with B-Dub and Shao Sosa, your loyal weekly purveyors of that good Pacific Northwest rap shit.
Really tho, thanks to Razor Tongue Radio for having me on. Never thought I’d be asked to give my opinions on Seattle rap in a radio interview format, but it was definitely a lot of fun. Stay up on RTR at their official (yet still under construction) website, here.
NEW MUSIC: “Keys” – Deniro Farrar, Gucci Mane, Nacho Picasso, & Mack Shine (prod. by Blue Sky Black Death)
Blue Sky Black Death recruit the dark side of the rap force for “Keys”: Deniro Farrar, Gucci, Nacho, and Mack Shine. This is sulfur, charcoal and potassium nitrate with BSBD as the casing.
Winner of a past edition of THE TRACKMEET, rapper Araless hit the 206UP inbox with his new track “Attention” (produced by Bellingham’s Goldenbeets). Boom bap with clear reference points for hip hop heads (check that Brother Ali flow in the second verse). I like this.
Tacoma’s The Breaklites make rap kitsch and tongue-in-cheek Americana worship hella catchy on “Shine”. No small feat. Watch for I ❤ America coming this winter.
You might know Perry Porter as one half of Sleep Steady, the enigmatic duo that’s been making underground noise around Town for the last five years or so. Kings Only is Perry’s new solo EP and the rapper sounds the most self-assured he’s ever been. Vocal comparisons to Jay Z are a little lazy but not completely out of bounds (from a superficial standpoint anyway). Nay, Perry Porter seems like that rare cat who marches to the beat of his own inner metronome — definitely one to watch. Kings Only features production by the Supreme Sound Architects (BlackMic x The1storn x DJ Semaj).
Fresh off the internets today: A remix version of Ka.lil’s “Whiskey Mask”, featuring Grynch and Fatal Lucciauno. Check for Ka.lil’s Between Saturday Night & Sunday Morning here.
Peta Tosh borrows four beats from Big K.R.I.T.’s 4evaNaDay instrumentals album for this brief mixtape, Thanks Krit.
Thaddeus David goes in a different sonic direction with the first drop from his upcoming Laws of Attraction. “Sarah’s Last” is a glance at the rapper’s more introspective side over an emotive track by SAT Beats.